The NYPD has missed a deadline set by the New York Attorney General to hand over data and policies on its subway policing efforts — raising concerns among criminal justice advocates and lawmakers that the department is trying to evade public scrutiny into its racially disproportionate enforcement tactics.
The investigation into the NYPD's policing of fare evasion was launched last month by Attorney General Letitia James, who cited longstanding concerns that "New Yorkers have been unfairly targeted because of the color of their skin."
The department was given until February 10th to report the demographic breakdown of farebeating arrests, the number of police officers assigned to each station, and all documents pertaining to the NYPD's directives for enforcing fare evasion laws.
A spokesperson for the Attorney General confirmed they still had not received the materials from the department as of Friday. The NYPD did not respond to multiple inquiries from Gothamist about the reasons for the delay.
"The NYPD is once again undermining their own integrity by showing that they cannot meet basic accountability and transparency requirements," said Anthony Posada, supervising attorney of the Community Justice Unit at the Legal Aid Society. "The only difference is this time they're blowing off the Attorney General of the State of New York."
The NYPD previously refused to abide by city legislation requiring them to turn over granular data on fare evasion arrest demographics, prompting a year-long legal battle that culminated in a state Supreme Court judge's ruling in September that the department must open its books.
They've since posted quarterly breakdowns of fare evasion arrests by race, age, and gender at the city's subway stations, as required by law. The figures show that 89 percent of those arrested for fare evasion were either Asian, black or Hispanic in the first six months of last year. Rates of enforcement in the city’s 130 stations in high-poverty neighborhoods were more than twice as high as the remaining 262 stations, according to an analysis by the Community Service Society.
"The bottom line is there has been a demonstrated disparate impact by race that isn't just explained by things like poverty and crime," said Harold Stopler, the senior economist at CSS, who conducted the analysis.
The attorney general's inquiry calls for additional qualitative data, including documents concerning the training of patrol officers and directives for enforcing fare evasion. It also asks for the number of officers assigned to each station — information the department has previously claimed it cannot provide for safety reasons.
The investigation comes amid sustained protests against Governor Andrew Cuomo's crackdown on fare evasion, and as the MTA begins to deploy an additional 500 police officers throughout the system focused on combatting fare evasion and homelessness.
"It just shows how contemptuous the NYPD is of following the law and submitting to meaningful oversight of legitimate governmental bodies," said City Councilmember Rory Lancman, who led the lawsuit against the department's previous refusal to provide the statistics. "They are very fearful of releasing data that contradicts their narrative."